In their discussion of the importance of r- and K-selection on tumors, Aktipis et al. (2013; figure 3) provide the following illustration of a hypothetical cancer growth curve:

Growth curve with escape from resource limitations

In it, you can see alternations between selection for proliferation and selection for survival as the populations breaks through one carrying capacity after another. Of interest to me, is the overall shape of the growth curve as several sigmoids -- with each corresponding to a different serial resource limitation. However, this growth curve is a cartoon and not a measurement of some empirical system. Are there examples of such growth curves in the empirical literature on cancer?

An ideal case would be in a well studied animal model (or humans), with a corresponding analysis of which resource limitation was overcome at each step. With at least two, but preferably more, resource limitations in series. However, I will also be satisfied with answers from cell lines grown in vitro, since growth curves are usually easier to measure there.

Aktipis, C. A., Boddy, A. M., Gatenby, R. A., Brown, J. S., & Maley, C. C. (2013). Life history trade-offs in cancer evolution. Nature Reviews Cancer, 13(12): 883-892.

  • $\begingroup$ Time is the limiting factor here for in vivo studies. Normally the growth curves you can actually find span about 1-2 months tops, many between 7 and 30 days (mouse model). At the very least this webpage offers some models incl. growth curves for a number of cancers. $\endgroup$
    – CKM
    Feb 11, 2016 at 20:30


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